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CNN TONIGHT

Vice President Joe Biden Ready to Hit the Road for 2020; President Trump Got His Match from the Democrats; Former Vice President Joe Biden Spoke About Trump; A Bill for $2 Million for Medical Care Given by North Korean Government. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 25, 2019 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Lots of news ahead. Let's turn things over to Don Lemon and CNN Tonight.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

It's on. The Democratic opponent this president may fear the most launches his campaign with a shot across the bow. Joe Biden, evoking President Trump's response to the deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, a moment that will forever be a flash point in the Trump presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said there were, quote, "some very fine people on both sides" very fine people on both sides? With those words the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.

And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So that's it. Here's a question. Which Charlottesville event will decide the direction of this country? Will it be the president's defense of white supremacists? Or will it be Biden standing in opposition at the very start of his campaign? Framing the choice in 2020 as one that will define the character of this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: We are in the battle for the soul of this nation. I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an abhorrent moment in time.

But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.

The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everybody that's made America, America is at stake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But can character Trump Trumpism? Can character Trump Trumpism? I want you to listen to what Biden said. It was just a little while ago. It was at a fundraiser in Philadelphia. And here is the quote.

It says "I don't think there's ever been a time, an election where more is at stake about the future of the country. I'm hoping that in a couple of years we'll look back and say whether it's me or anybody else replacing it that this is an aberration in American history, these four years, because it is not who we are."

So, when Biden suggests that Donald Trump is like a cancer on the presidency, one that can be excised and the country will be healed, is he right? Or is he ignoring not only everything that has happened in the Trump era, but also the lesson of eight years of opposition to President Barack Obama?

When Republicans did everything in their power to stop his agenda in its tracks. Remember the quote, "we'll make him a one-term president." Time will tell.

Biden is a front runner, but he's a long way from being the nominee. And he certainly has things to regret over his very long career. We all have things in our past that we wish that we could undo.

I've got to think that Joe Biden wishes he could undo his handling of Anita Hill's testimony during Clarence Thomas's nomination, there he is up on the screen.

He said last month that she faced hostile and insulting questioning when she testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her. And then Biden went on to say that Anita Hill, quote, "paid a terrible price, she was abused through the hearing, she was taken advantage of, her reputation was attacked," that's a quote.

And we're learning that the former vice president called her earlier this month to personally share his regret. But Hill tells the New York Times tonight that she is not satisfied and can't support Biden's candidacy.

So, I want you to think about this, OK? Why should she? Don't you think it's unfair to expect her to support him? It's unfair to expect that Anita Hill would just put aside an experience that was so publicly painful, an experience that changed everything for her, one she's had to live with for 28 years, surely you can understand that, why should we expect that? She's not required to support Biden.

[22:04:57] And we don't know what was said in their private conversation. I think it is unfair to assume that Joe Biden's regret was a transaction. Something he did to get her support.

You can believe that what Joe Biden did in 1991 during the Thomas hearings was wrong, and at the same time believe that Joe Biden would not handle things the same way in 2019, in 2020, in 2021 or 2022, 2019 lens for 1991.

Voters will make up their minds about that, about whether he has done enough to apologize and make amends and how important that is to their vote.

As for Anita Hill, she gets to believe and demand whatever she wants after the experience she went through. It's not for anyone else to say what apology she should accept or not accept.

She also told the Times this, listen, another quote that she does not find Mr. Biden's conduct disqualifying. That's what she said. That's what the article says.

But as Biden declared his candidacy today it seems like he has gotten under some people's skin. I just want you to listen to something the president's daughter-in-law Lara Trump said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARA TRUMP, SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN: Joe Biden is just among a sea now of other candidates who quite frankly are all trying to out-Bernie one another. I didn't hear any proposals for the future of this country in his announcement video that he made there, race baiting as usual as we see from the Democrats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Race baiting. You would think those words would just stick in her throat, accusing Joe Biden of race baiting. Has she met Donald Trump? When it's her father-in-law, the President of the United States who has Biden points out defended white supremacists in Charlottesville.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides, you had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, remember it was Donald Trump who launched his campaign with an attack on Mexicans, who called African nations shit hole countries, who promoted the racist birther lie that President Obama was not born in this country.

President Trump, who tweets about anything and everything, never got around to tweeting about the burnings of three African-American churches in Louisiana just a few weeks ago, never got around to that.

Also, did he ever apologize to President Obama? On and on and on.

The question again, can character Trump Trumpism? Can Biden unite a party whose diverse progressive wing seems to be getting all the attention? So, they may seem to be getting all the attention. But the fact is about 50 percent of the Democratic voters identify as moderate or conservative. About the same percentage are at least 50 years old.

So, don't count Biden out. He could be right up their alley. This election won't be decided on Twitter. It will be decided at the ballot box.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The fact of the matter is the vast majority of the members of the Democratic Party are still basically liberal, moderate Democrats in the traditional sense.

Show me the really left, left, left wingers who'd be the Republicans, a Republican. So, the idea that the Democratic Party is sort of stood on its head, I don't get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Here's the dilemma for Democrats, OK? Will this election be about breaking the mold or about electability? Which means beating Trump.

Van Jones is going to be on the program a little bit later but our own Van Jones, and I told him this is brilliant, I mean, he said this, he put it really well today, with the margin of Trump's victory, just about 77,744 votes in three states, you've got to take a really close look at a guy who could win those votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Do we want to go with new, fresh, young faces going to throw out, you know, the most inspiring ideas, or do we just need to find somebody who can bring us back together, and frankly get those 70,000 midwestern voters to come back over the fence.

Because don't forget, we lost the industrial Midwest, three states by a total of 70,000 votes. Joe Biden can get those 70,000 votes without getting out of bed in the morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:10:03] LEMON: While Democrats are facing the momentous choice of who can best challenge Trump in 2020, they face another equally momentous choice, what to do about a president whose lied to the American people, who's stonewalling, who's ordering his aides to defy lawful subpoenas from Congress, who tried again and again to obstruct justice and pressured his aides to do it for him.

It's not just me who's saying that. OK? Fasten your seat belts. Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: I'm disappointed in the behavior of the president. His job is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, to uphold and to enforce federal law, not to violate it.

If he had ordered his aides to violate federal law, to save a human life, or to preserve human freedom he would at least have a moral defense to his behavior. But ordering them to break federal law to save him from the consequences of his own behavior, that is immoral, that is criminal, that is defenseless, and that is condemnable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Fox News, Judge Andrew Napolitano.

So, what are Democrats going to do? Are they going to rely on the ballot box, rely on impeachment? Will they unite behind a candidate who can defeat Trump? Or will they put the president on trial?

Like I said it is a momentous choice, one that could change the direction of this country.

To Kaitlan Collins at the White House now. Kaitlan, good evening to you. You've got some reporting about the president and how worried he is about Joe Biden. What are you hearing?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Don, the president was just asked what he thinks about Joe Biden entering the race today. And of course, he was repeating the same criticisms he had earlier in the day, essentially questioning his intelligence.

But Don, he did seem bothered by the fact that in Joe Biden's video he immediately brought up Charlottesville and the way the president was criticized for how he handled that, and as you showed the video there of what the president said.

And what the president did seemed to be worried about there, Don, though, was he did say that despite what he thinks of Don -- of Joe Biden and despite his criticisms of him, he did note the fact that he does have name recognition, something that sources have said the president has been worried about when it comes to Joe Biden.

LEMON: So, Kaitlan, Biden was front and center today, the talk of the news, the president wasn't on TV as much. Is that pretty much the worst fate of all for President Trump?

COLLINS: Well, we've talked to campaign sources and they have said that they do think it could be a problem with the president because there is such a crowded field of Democrats which they think it could be helpful, because they think that the Democrats could badly bruise each other before they come to the end of that primary.

But for the president who likes to be on the headlines, he likes to be on TV, and see that constantly himself in the news, that is something they're worried about, that when the president sees these Democrats getting a lot of air time, the president is going to want to involve himself more in a race than typically you would see a president do so.

LEMON: Kaitlan Collins at the White House, Kaitlan, thank you so much. Can Joe Biden rebuild a blue wall that Donald Trump broke down in

2016? Well, I'm going to ask a Midwestern former governor who knows Biden well, and that is John Kasich, he's next.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: When he announce his 2020 campaign today, Joe Biden did not go after his Democratic rivals, instead taking direct aim at Donald Trump's presidency, saying if Trump wins a second term he'll forever change the character of America.

Let's discuss. John Kasich, the former Republican Governor of Ohio is here and it's always a pleasure to have you. OK, let's talk here. Good evening, by the way.

FMR. GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH): Good evening.

LEMON: You know Biden well.

KASICH: I do.

LEMON: CNN is reporting that President Trump is worried about Biden, should he be, John?

KASICH: Sure, of course he should be. You know, it was interesting, Don as you mentioned that he didn't attack any of his Democrat opponents here. What I found interesting, you know, as I watched that little video this morning, I think he's just going to try to ignore them.

And I think his campaign now is going to direct himself at Donald Trump. I don't think he's going to be -- I mean, he's going to get pulled in to some degree but I think at all times he's going to be aiming at Trump.

It's me and Trump. Here's what Trump is, here's what who am, and I think that's what he's going to try to do. As to whether he can avoid these pitfalls, we're going to have to wait and see.

But, you know, Joe's got a lot of experience. People say, well, you know, he had some other campaigns that didn't go very well. Hey, you have to learn and he's learned a lot. So, we'll see what happens.

He's going to have gaffes, you know. I said the other day, Don, look, he likes to talk a lot. I told somebody, I got on a plane with him in Washington, we landed in New York, when we got on the plane in Washington, I said how you doing and when we landed in New York he finished, you know. So, he talks.

But as John McCain used to say Joe talks a lot, but we love him.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You said how are you doing and when you land you said -- you said it's nice to see you.

KASICH: Yes, exactly.

LEMON: I've got to ask you, though, you know we can talk about pitfalls, it's early on, maybe it's -- maybe it's good, who knows, that he gets these things out of the way early and then, you know, he's on to something else. I don't know. You're the political person. You're also a Midwestern governor. You know the people.

KASICH: I also ran for president.

LEMON: Yes, you sure did. So can Biden rebuild that blue wall that Trump broke through, win back those states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan maybe even your home state of Ohio?

KASICH: Don, doesn't -- doesn't he feel -- doesn't Joe Biden feel like a person that can talk to the lunch bucket crowd, to the blue- collar crowd? I mean, that's why I relate to Joe. You know, I'm from Pittsburgh originally, he's over there in Delaware. You know, he's a guy he does a lot of hugging and how you doing, man, kind of thing and he looks you in the eye.

And he has an appeal, a certain appeal because what people want to know is do you get me? And what Biden, I think, can communicate, if he does it well, that hey, I get you, I understand you, I understand what your problem is, because I grew up with it.

LEMON: Yes.

[22:20:00] KASICH: And, you know, I think that that is a key to Pennsylvania, to Michigan, to Ohio, to Wisconsin. I can't predict the states yet. But yes, I think that he could because of who he is and his positions that will be more moderate, I think he will be able to win --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You -- OK.

KASICH: -- those votes and I think he'll win some disaffected Republicans if he makes it through, we'll see.

LEMON: All right. I think you're onto something there. I think you're onto something because those are the people, the disaffected Republicans, the centrists in the Democratic Party, actually the moderates, the people who actually go out and vote the most, they felt that they weren't paid attention to in 2016, right, like, you know, and so many of them voted for Trump.

So, here's my question then. You know what it's like to be a candidate in the primary who could have been a formidable player in the general election. But with the party seemingly, and that's seemingly going, if you look at the news media you might believe --

KASICH: Yes.

LEMON: -- are the people who get the attention that it's going in another direction. So, I'm wondering how Joe Biden can navigate that. But let me preface this by saying 50 percent of the Democratic voters

identify as moderate or conservative and the same percentage are at least 50 years old and those are the people who show up. So, again, my question is, can Biden navigate that?

KASICH: Well, I think, Don, what you have to understand is think about this when I was in the race against Trump, we had rules in the Republican Party winner takes all. So, he'd get 30 percent of the vote and lose 70 percent of the vote and he'd win all the delegates.

The Democratic Party is different. They're not going to have winner take all. So, Joe is going to claim the mantle. I think it's part of the reason why Terry McAuliffe from Virginia didn't get in the race, because he saw Biden in his lane and Biden was really going to big foot him. He was going to -- he was going to have more power in that area.

So, he doesn't have to win all the hard left.

LEMON: Right.

KASICH: He just has to win enough so that he can accumulate delegates.

Now I heard you say earlier that you know, who's going to break the mold and have all these new ideas? How about some -- how about these ideas, that debt matters and we shouldn't enslave our kids? How about the idea that we need to deal with health care and not take away preexisting conditions, without blowing up the whole system and getting rid of private insurance?

How about trade where we are going to go back to a level playing field without these things he's opposing all these tariffs and walking away from trade deals or walking away from the climate deal, those are really good ideas, you don't have to go reinvent the wheel with the, you know, the Green New Deal in order to have some good ideas.

And a return, by the way, to some normalcy, return to normalcy. Trump -- or Biden's message today was, did you hear what the president said about Charlottesville and there were many good people?

Biden says that's not the country we want to believe in. And so, it's a message that's bigger than his tax plan, his health care plan, it's a message of values. And we'll see how it goes.

LEMON: Well, he's saying he hopes that we'll look back over time and say that the last four years, these four years that it was -- that somehow it didn't happen, when he said that it was an aberration, is what he said.

So, let me ask you this. He says that he believes that if you get rid of this president that you will get rid of this -- you will put this toxic era behind us. Do you think it's that simple?

KASICH: No, I don't. I think -- but what Biden could do, or what any leader could do is, Don, he needs to bring out the best in ourselves. See, I have a different theory than a lot of people. I think power

comes from the bottom up. If you look at the Civil Rights movement the politicians were running as fast as they could away from the issues.

It was only when the churches, the public, people who were not church people, who saw the injustice, the lack of morality who said we're changing this and they just shoved it down the politicians' throats.

There were leaders in the politics but frankly, the change came from the people. And what we have to do is convince people in this country any leader who, hey, remember what John Kennedy said, it's not what your country does for you, it's what you do for your country.

This notion that we can be bigger and better that we all matter and we don't have to hate one another. And I saw you and Cuomo the other day talking about religion. Look, religion, two great commandments. Love god, love your neighbor as you want your neighbor to love you. That means --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Do unto others --

KASICH: -- look out for somebody else, OK?

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: This is where we need to get back to. And whoever can ignite that, I think, is going to do well. I found that on the trail, Don, issues mattered less and the fact that I could connect with them in terms of where they live and what their problems were mattered more.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, you're close second behind Joe Biden for loving to talk, I'm going to ask you for a one-word answer --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Yes, I admit that.

LEMON: -- to this question, if you'll indulge me.

KASICH: OK.

LEMON: OK. If it is Biden versus Trump, would you vote for Biden?

KASICH: Let's wait and see how this all goes.

[22:25:01] LEMON: That's not one word.

KASICH: Because you know I didn't vote - no, because I don't know. I don't know how Joe Biden is going to do and I'm not going to --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I'm just saying -- if it was.

KASICH: I'm not saying he's going --

LEMON: I just said if it was. I'm not saying he's going to be. I just want to know.

KASICH: OK. I'm going to give you short answer, when the time comes, I'll let you know. How's that? That was my anti-Biden short answer.

LEMON: That was a -- that was definitely a politician's --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: I'm not saying another word.

LEMON: That was a politician's answer. Thank you, John Kasich.

KASICH: I just don't know. What if I run, you going to vote for me if I run, D. Lemon?

LEMON: I would, it depends. It depends on what you do over time.

KASICH: Wait a minute. You're doing the same thing. If I run you should say yes, I'll be for you.

LEMON: Well, if you answered one word, I would have answered one word too. So, my answer is no. How about that? I'm kidding.

KASICH: Come on. You're breaking my heart.

LEMON: I've got to run, Governor.

KASICH: Don't do that to me.

LEMON: I'll see you next time.

KASICH: See you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Governor. I appreciate your time.

KASICH: Thank you.

LEMON: We've got a lot more on former Vice President Joe Biden announcing his bid for president. He is coming out swinging against President Trump. Is that the message voters want to hear?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Joe Biden is off and running officially launching his campaign for president and focusing his pitch on President Trump.

Here to discuss now is Biden's -- discuss Biden's strategy is Ryan Lizza, Ayesha Rascoe, and Jonathan Martin.

I'm trying to get my mouth to work tonight. It's been a long week. Hello. How you guys doing? Thank you for coming on, I appreciate it.

So, Ryan, I'm going to start with you. Biden is -- he's taking on Trump directly, making his pitch about morals, not policy. Do you think that's the right strategy?

[22:29:55] RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the way he came out of the gate in making this a race about him versus Trump and here's why Trump is really, really bad for the country. I think that plays into his number one strength which is, you know, look at the CNN poll -- I believe it's a CNN poll from February that said Democratic primary voters -- the number one thing they want is someone who can beat Trump. Their number two is experience. And number three is to work across the aisle with Republicans.

Those are the three top things in a major poll, three things that Biden has as his strengths. So I think he's a little bit stronger than some of the coverage suggests today, actually, where there's been a lot of focus on his weaknesses and his shifting positions over the years and whether he's too old. He's leaning into those three strengths. He's the guy that can beat Trump.

LEMON: Let me just say this, because you were here with me through 2016. And you remember I am saying hey, listen, everybody is not -- they're downplaying or underestimating Trump, right?

LIZZA: Absolutely. You told me that many times.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And I said I think he can win the nomination. He could win the presidency. So I agree with you about Joe Biden. I think that maybe many of us have it wrong. I think some of the stuff -- listen, what he did -- I am not saying that it was right on some issues, but people are looking back at things that happened a long time ago through a 2019 lens.

Again, that's not making -- that's excusing what he did. But I do think a lot of it is a tempest in a teapot, and it is Democrats who are fighting among themselves. And, you know, I don't know if this is actually going to matter. I think it's what you said. Democrats want someone who is going to beat Donald Trump. It is beat Trump is their build that wall. Do you agree with that, Ayesha?

AYESHA RASCOE, NPR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I absolutely agree with that. That's what they're looking for. The question is what do they think that will actually look like and what that will actually be? My colleague at NPR, Danielle Kurtzleben, wrote this week about electability and whether it actually kind of ups those that are kind of white and male and look like most previous presidents.

And is the idea of electability, this idea that you have to get somebody who kind of looks like we've always thought was presidential. I think what Joe Biden will have to answer is not just what he thought in the past but who is he today. So what -- if he's not the same person that he was back then, what is he offering to Democrats. And what is the vision and the story that he's going to offer?

And I don't think that can just be anti-Trump. I think that there has to be some type of vision going forward. LEMON: OK. Let me ask you, something, Jonathan. I promise I'm going

to bring you in. But I have to ask you this, Ayesha. What is he saying -- he's going on The View tomorrow, right, gear towards women. I mean that was Barbara Walters. This is a show about women, geared towards women. So what does he say, because you know he's going to be asked about that?

RASCOE: That's the question, because he has this issue with what happened with Anita Hill. And is he going -- and he talked to her but hasn't necessarily -- she's not satisfied with his answers on that. And then he has the issues of touching, and him being too touchy with women and with people in general. And so how does he answer that?

I think the problem that he has had at times is wanting to apologize, but this idea that you can't be weak if you apologize for everything. So how do you kind of -- how do you square that? How do you say that I have changed?

LEMON: Well, the answers, I think to -- again, Jonathan, is, you know, she talked about the touching and all that. And if you look at the polling that happened after that, it seemed to be something. It was a stir in the media. And the people polled said, oh, OK made him uncomfortable. Shouldn't do it, but it wasn't a disqualifying issue for them.

Same thing, Anita Hill said just so we know in The New York Times, Anita Hill said that she does not find Mr. Biden's conduct disqualifying. I am really open to people changing, she said. Talk to me, Jonathan.

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. We talked to Anita Hill yesterday at The Times, and she obviously is not fully satisfied with Joe Biden's explanation and his attempt to a reproshma (ph). But what's puzzling, Don, about the Hill situation is why Biden wouldn't reach out earlier and try and make that right. This came up during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing last fall when Biden was widely expected to run for president.

You know, why wouldn't he have gone to see her then or at least picked up the phone then? We did a story last year, where Barbara Boxer, a Joe Biden friend and a former colleague, was pleading with him in our paper in print to say Joe's got to fix this. You've got to step up. And I don't know why he waited so long, because it is going to create a challenge.

[22:34:50] But I think, Don, you raised an important point here, and that is what is the Democratic primary. Is it the sort of loudest voices who are following this race 10 months out, who tend to be online, especially on Twitter, who obviously don't like Biden? Or is it a kind of larger, more middle class sort of less politically- driven, less ideological electorate that is more open to Biden.

Because I think those are his voters, the Joe Biden voter is more on Facebook than on Twitter. And the Joe Biden voter, frankly, is over 50, and I think in many cases over 60. And that's kind of forgotten, I think. But the Democratic primary, as young as the party is sort of becoming because young folks obviously can't stand President Trump. It's still dominated primaries by older voters, in a place like Iowa and New Hampshire, especially, Don. Those are full of older voters who actually like Biden.

LEMON: Listen. You bring up a very interesting point. I'm sure you saw -- The Times also did some reporting, saying most of the people who vote in Democratic primaries, caucuses, and general elections, they're not on Twitter.

MARTIN: That's right.

LEMON: Right? And they are more moderate than --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: More moderate, more diverse, more middle class, right, right.

LEMON: And so -- and those are the people who show up to the polls.

MARTIN: Correct.

LEMON: We're going to talk about what Joe Biden said at a fundraiser. We're going to talk about what he said about the former president. To endorse or not to endorse, we'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Ryan, Ayesha, Jonathan, they are back with me. Ryan, you first, so Biden spoke more about Trump at a fundraiser tonight saying this. He said this kind of thing that has been generated that the way to gain power and to control is to split the nation, pit people against people, you come and you say the reason you got a problem, you got a problem, you middle class guy.

You lost your job or you're worried about your job is because of the other, because of the black guy, or women have too much power or the migrant is coming. So he's talking about when he says the other, he's talking about the, you know, the other, right, otherizing people. He's clearly saying that the president is selling a message of hate.

LIZZA: Yeah. And -- well, I mean, I don't mean to be, you know, sarcastic but it is kind of funny that he's at this high dollar fundraiser talking about the middle class guy. That aside --

LEMON: Where's he going to get the money though, man?

LIZZA: I know. But I do think, optics-wise, I think it's a little strange that they started the campaign at a fundraiser. You know, look, you know, again, he's going back to this, you know, Biden against Trump. He's the guy that's going to take on Trump. He wants to, you know, voters to visualize him on that stage with Trump, and going through the long, long list of things that Democrats will use to make the case against Trump.

It is kind of puzzling that he's doing that more than some of the other candidates. You know what I mean? I have been surprised going out -- you know, I spent three days in New Hampshire, saw a bunch of candidates. And I was surprised at how much Trump is not mentioned. And the sort of, you know, this litany of abuses by this president is not necessarily a part of everyone's stump speech. It's really fascinating.

Maybe it has to do with a lot of these candidates are new. They're less famous. They want people to learn about them first. But Trump's -- excuse me Biden's going it a little differently.

LEMON: Yeah. Ayesha, I'm just going to preface my next question with this, all right? And this is the latest Fox News poll, it's from March. It shows Biden polls seven points over Trump, OK? So with that said, this is how the president is responding to Biden's announcement. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't know who it's going to be. Maybe it's Sanders or maybe Biden. I think that, you know, when you look at Joe, I have known Joe over the years. He's not the brightest light bulb in the group, I don't think. But he has a name that they know. He's, you know, coming on with little cute statements about me that he talked about the way the world is today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He's not the brightest bulb.

LIZZA: I would like to know who Trump thinks is the brightest bulb in the field.

LEMON: Ayesha -- oh my, gosh. OK, so he then went on to discuss, Ayesha, the military, the military tax cuts. How much do you expect him to focus on Biden in the coming months? And go on, say whatever you want.

RASCOE: He will focus on Biden a lot. Talking to people who are kind of supporters of Trump, they -- now they will say that they're not worried about any Democratic candidate. But one candidate that does come up is Joe Biden. And so I think that especially between Biden and Trump. I think it will -- it will be very personal. And I think that Trump, for whatever reason, takes what Biden says very personally.

Maybe because he's associated with former President Obama, who President Trump clearly has issues with and always wants to kind of one up. But I think that this is going to be kind of very personal between them. I mean, at this point he's kind of referring to Joe Biden as Sleepy Joe Biden. Now, that nickname seems to be just a nickname that he throws on people named Joe.

It doesn't really seem to be -- like, I mean, out of all the nicknames it doesn't seem to be the most creative. But that's what he's going with. I think that -- but I do think that this White House does look at Joe Biden as the moderate, and that they feel like he would be difficult for them to beat because he is moderate. And they look at everyone else as going too far to the left.

LEMON: Wasn't there a rockabilly song lock Cotton Eyed Joe?

MARTIN: Yes, there was.

LEMON: Jonathan, you know everything. So Jonathan, here's what else Biden said at the fundraiser. He says I am going to tell you exactly what I think. I am going to be completely honest with you. And as the old joke goes, no one ever doubts, I mean, I mean what I say. Sometimes I say all that I mean, but I make no apologies, none. So, you know, this has gotten him into trouble in the past.

MARTIN: It has.

[22:45:11] LEMON: Yeah. But also, you know, he's had to apologize for it. Trump also makes gaffes, doesn't apologize for his flubs. And sometimes people -- maybe that's what people like about Joe.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Yes.

LEMON: Maybe he's just --

MARTIN: His biggest asset, Don, is also his biggest liability, which is he does say what is on his mind. And obviously, that that gets him into some trouble, but it also reminds people that he is a flesh and blood human being. He's obviously got his flaws, and people can relate to who he is and his trials, and yes even his gaffes, too. And I think what -- his focus on Trump is not just personal. It's political too.

The more this race is about Trump and Trump's conduct in America in the Trump era, the bigger Joe Biden looks and the bigger this race looks. And that helps him stay out of the kind of nitty-gritty that he does not want to get dragged down into and kind of litigate his past and to, you know, take on, you know, attacks from various Democratic opponents and get into the mud with them.

He wants to be big. He wants to be above the fray, because otherwise, Don, you know, why else should Democrats pick him if this is just one more Democratic primary and one more campaign? He's got to make this race a national emergency. This is a different kind of moment. One of his supporters from Philadelphia, Brendan Boyle, a congressman, said this is the most important election since 1860. And he was no exaggerating.

That's the kind of approach Biden, the Biden campaign want, because if it's not that big of a deal, if it's not that urgent, he's not going to be the nominee.

LEMON: Hey, Jonathan, I got to go. First of all, I thought of -- no one told me to say this, producers or anything -- before you and I start getting e-mails about -- not e-mails, tweets about it, I didn't mean rockabilly. It's bluegrass, OK? I thought of that myself.

MARTIN: The Biden style gaffe, Don. We'll forgive you.

LEMON: Do you think -- quickly, please, because I am really over time. Do you think that he did the best of sort of differentiating himself from the rest, maybe even overshadowing the rest and putting the election squarely where it's going to be and should be?

MARTIN: In that video, I think he certainly did that, yeah. The question is, is can he sustain it when he faces questions from the press and from voters next week in Iowa. It's not going to be about Charlottesville and Trump. It's going to be about Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, and prisoners voting. Then what does he do and say? Can he stick to the script? That's the question, Don.

LEMON: Front runner now, but a long way to go. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.

RASCOE: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

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LEMON: CNN has learned that the North Korean government presented the U.S. with a bill for $2 million for medical care for detained American, Otto Warmbier. Warmbier was imprisoned by the North Koreans in January of 2016 when he was on tour of the country and returned to the U.S. in 2017 in a coma. He died six days later. The former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is here to talk about this.

Good evening, Director. Thank you so much for joining us. Such a brazen move on North Korea's part, demanding the U.S. pay after imprisoning, possibly killing, one of our citizens. His father says it sounds like a ransom. What do you say?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first of all, this just -- if it's possible, compounds the obscenity of what the North Koreans did to Otto Warmbier. And it's true, you know, if this is true, it is in character with the North Koreans who look for every opportunity to generate hard currency. No matter -- as egregious as something like this. So I think it's a cautionary tale for heads of state who choose to embrace a brutal despot like Kim Jong-Un.

LEMON: Let me -- so the administration hasn't paid the $2 million, Director, although CNN confirms that the Trump administration agreed to it before North Korea released Warmbier into American custody back in 2017. What, if anything, should the U.S. do now?

CLAPPER: Well, you know, if we did -- if this administration did agree, I think that really is an extremely bad precedent. Because what it means is that at times of their choosing, the North Koreans can choose to hold American citizen hostage for a big ransom. And they're not above doing that. I mean, it's just -- their single- minded drive for generating hard currency, and they'll look for every opportunity, every excuse to do it no matter how completely inappropriate and obscene that it is. So I think -- you know, offer advice that nobody will listen to, you

know, just -- you need to be realistic about North Korea and the nature of that regime.

LEMON: So Director, when you went to North Korea in 2014, were you asked to pay any sort ransom for the two Americans citizens, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller, that you went there for?

CLAPPER: No. No, other than, of course, they look for every opportunity to make money by my visit. You know, for -- we had, you know, pay for, you know, exorbitant fee to park our aircraft on a remote taxiway at Sunan Airport. And, you know, you wouldn't dream of paying what we paid for the hotel bill in a state guesthouse.

[22:55:06] And they hosted a dinner for us, which I found out later we paid for. So other than that, no, there was no overt request for money in exchange for the release of the two citizens who were imprisoned under hard labor conditions. And they expected something else from my visit since I was first cabinet official to go there since Madeleine Albright had in the year 2000. So they had other expectations.

LEMON: So let me ask you about this. And this is, you know, the political news, the election. Vice President Joe Biden jumped into the presidential race today. And I just want to read to you something he said at a fundraiser tonight. He said the embrace of dictators and oligarchs in the face of dissing our friends, talking about NATO, talking about our allies in eastern -- excuse me, in the Far East, in Asia. It's just like what's going on here? I imagine there are a lot of people around the world asking the same question.

CLAPPER: Well, exactly. You know, and the irony is that our closest friends and allies who've been with us through thick and thin are really not only questioning what's going on here, but are genuinely concerned and worried about what's happening in this country and the void that many of them feel we're leaving in the world today, the leadership void. This is, I think, particularly true in NATO.

LEMON: It's always a pleasure to have you on, and just, you know, when I saw that video of you over there for Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller, it just made me want to thank you for your service to this country. Thank you so much, Director. I will see you soon.

CLAPPER: Well, thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.

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